In recent months, gut health has been headlining major health blogs around the globe. And for good reason – there’s a lot more gut health than you might have ever imagined! Not only does good gut health help combat digestive issues, but it also helps strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation and keep your mind and body performing at its optimum.
But how can you replenish the health of your gut?
Well, the answer lies in the 4R program developed by Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D. The 4R program is a is an extremely effective way to address and treat gastrointestinal dysfunctions and promote gastrointestinal health. The four R’s include:
Let’s talk about what each of these steps means for you, practically!
The first step to improved gut health is to remove harmful toxins from your diet. You should remove food, drinks and medications could be causing damage to your digestive process. These toxins include:
- Unhealthy fats,
- processed foods,
- sugar products
- Gastric irritants (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Reactive foods (dairy, eggs, gluten)
Secondly, you need to replace stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which may be lacking in your gut. Lab tests, such as fat absorption tests and gastric analysis, can help determine what factors need to be replaced.
Supplements that help support your healing, include:
- Digestive enzymes, including protease, lipase, amylase, and pepsin
- Hydrochloric acid (which can be found in Apple Cider Vinegar)
Then, for six to twelve weeks, you need to reinoculate your gut with good bacteria to help regain a healthy microflora balance. Intestinal microflora are microorganisms that live in our gut and are helpful in aiding digestion and nutrient absorption. This can be accomplished with a variety of foods and supplements:
These foods include tea, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.
These are non-digestible plant components that nourish the body’s microflora. These prebiotics can be found in:
- Jerusalem artichokes,
- Also available in supplement form
Probiotics are live bacteria that aid the digestive process and keep our gut health and intestinal function strong. Probiotics are available as supplements; purchase a refrigerated brand with live, mixed flora such as lactobacillus and acidophilus.
Lastly, you need to repair the lining of your gut through good nutrition—this can take up to six months. In addition to an allergen-free, healthy diet, a variety of foods and supplements may help to reduce inflammation and support cell growth in your digestive tract, such as:
- Omega-3 fatty acids (found in low-mercury fish, chia seeds, flax seeds and egg yolks)
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin D
There is no shortcut to improved gut health, but the journey is full of beautiful rewards along the way. Not only will the process put your will-power and sweet tooth to the test, but it will help you discover a world of knowledge about your body and what makes it work best. The journey is challenging but the rewards of a healthy gut are immeasurable!